Maggie O’Farrell is one of my favourite authors, so I was really looking forward to this, her unconventional memoir. Seventeen brushes with death sounds like an awful lot, and it is, but some of them are the sort we all experience. For all that is about her near death experiences, the book is a reflection on life; its tenacity, young people’s carelessness with it, the difficult, the baffling, the beautiful. It is very personal, very relatable, and beautifully written as always.
This book left me with chills up my spine. It was a believable storyline using people’s daily routine – what they do the same everyday – routines that could so easily become known by strangers. Hearing the criminal’s voice inbetween Kelly (investigator) and Zoe’s (victim) was chilling. Great ending with a final twist.
This is the story of an Irishman’s life, from before he was born, when his mother was kicked out of her village by the priest for being unmarried and pregnant, until all of his life was lived. It’s also the story of Ireland, from the end of WWII, until now, and how it has grown and changed. These were hard times to be gay in Ireland, and Cyril’s journey to find a place for and within himself, takes him across the world. This is a difficult story, harsh and sad, but it is also laugh out loud funny, tender, and full of characters that will stay with me.
Totally bizarre, The Last Days of New Paris certainly isn’t a book for everyone. It is alternate history set in two time periods, 1941 and 1950. What is created in 1940, leaves Thibaut and Sam still fighting Nazis in 1950 Paris, along with surrealist art that has come to life, and demons. It’s kind of like looking at surrealist artworks; I don’t really have any idea of what is going on, but it is disturbing, intriguing, frightening and somehow beautiful.
The story opens with a young lady taking the stairs to the roof of a hotel. We then meet three very different women lodging at the Barbizon, a women-only hotel in New York. We get a glimpse into their lives as they try to fulfill their dreams. Which one is the lady waiting to jump?
The story flows well and the author has authentically created the setting and time period. The ending is however a bit predictable.
The Improbability of Love is the story of an 18th Century French painting, which turns up in a junk shop, and sets an awful lot of drama in motion. It’s a fast-paced mystery/thriller with elements of chick lit and satire. It was a bit of a mixed bag for me, sometimes the sense of everything going wrong before it could go right, just made me want to put it down, and I found some aspects over done, but the resolution was satisfying and the journey often amusing or engaging.
I really love this book! In order to tell his story, Cal Stephanides needs to go back and start with his grandparents. What follows is the epic story of a Greek family, beginning with an escape from burning Smyrna to their settling in Detroit. It is full of real history thrillingly entwined with the imagined; the Nation of Islam, the riots in Detroit (David Bowie song!) and an experience of being intersex. It is heartwarming, funny, over the top and very real at the same time.
We are nearly at the end of the series and I think my interest is waning. I had forgotten what had happened in the last book (2 years is a long time to wait!) and I think this affected my enjoyment of the story. The characters seemed emotionless to me, which was offputting, considering what they all went through. Lets hope the series finishes with a bang.
I wish I had read this before The Count of Monte Cristo. The Three Musketeers is a wild adventure, with duels, daring escapes, abductions, affairs galore, political machinations, treason, betrayal, romance and friendship. Milady is a clever villain, brilliant evil, and the four ‘heroes’ were almost as bad – vain, callous, manipulative and adulterous. The book is fun, but having really loved The Count of Monte Cristo, I was disappointed.
It turns out that I can enjoy a book like this, if it is set in a book shop, in the Cotswolds. Emilia’s father has died, leaving her a book shop that isn’t doing very well. As she decides whether to keep it going or not, a cast of her customers also find themselves at crossroads. It’s heartwarming, comfortably predictable and sweet, without being cloying. I couldn’t read only this sort of book, but it was an entertaining interlude.